Monday, June 26, 2006

The Cloudspotter's Guide - do not miss

I've just started to read the Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Seemed a bit off the wall, but I was intrigued by a book review in the Economist. I've read about the various types of Cumulus clouds; these are the nice fluffy fair weather clouds. I've read about the Cumulonimbus, the marvellous anvil shaped storm cloud which can stretch from 2000 feet up to 50000 feet. Gavin gives an exciting explanation of what is going on from a meteorological viewpoint and soothes the flagging intellect with some rather fine anecdotes and cultural cameos. The best example so far is that of Lt. Col. William Rankin who fell 45,000 feet through a rather lively Cumulonimbus - experiencing outrageously low temperatures, pummelled by hailstones, repeatedly lifted by convection currents, a forty minute roller-coaster ride - and still lived to tell the tale. Already I find that skies are better able to grab my attention. Works of art that are easy to take for granted and hardly notice at all.

Can you really make money out of blogs?

Well I am starting my trawl for how people make money out of their blogs. My first port of call was the Adsense option on, the second port of call was of course Amazon, where I signed up as an Associate. Took a look around the associate information. The main idea was to write the occasional book review and to leave a link to the book in the blog. You get 15% of the list value credited to your account if someone follows the link and buys the book. There's also something called a "self-optimising link". This is a kind of banner ad which adapts itself to the content of your web site. So as a starters I copied the html provided by Amazon into the bottom of the blog template, just above the footer, ... et voila, nice little Amazon ads appear at the bottom of my blog page. Nice, but retirement plans still on hold.

Friday, June 23, 2006

You really will get comments on your blogs; not always welcome however ...

Having returned to the blogosphere, I was delighted to discover that my experimental blogs had attracted some comments. To my initial blog I got a comment from Jean-Claude Morand who first demonstrated the technology to me. He has since set up a company to evangelise these new technologies ; si vous pouvez parler francais, je vous recommande a suivre cet hyperlink!
I also discovered some less welcome comments on my "In search of an RSS reader" posting. No, I don't want to contact "abunnyinpink", no I don't want to want to "get my desired college degree in less than 2 weeks", and nor do I want to "follow the day to day life of a park ranger". But hey this is the internet after all. In any case I left them there for posterity.

Has it really been more than one year?

After a fit of enthusiasm about blogging and RSS and all that stuff things went quiet for over a year. It has recently come back on the radar. Probably because, as everyone else is, I am finding that there is so much stuff filling my email, and so much information that we need to filter to find what we are interested in, that I am thinking again how best to address the problem. This is an issue both in a personal context, and a work context, but mainly the latter.
A friend of mine Roger Shepherd has started blogging. I think he would like to make a modest fortune from the activity. May be not as much as contemporaries who got in at the start of Microsoft and are now sailing yachts 24X7, but perhaps enough to fund the family ski trip. Take a look at his articles, they're pretty good.
Blogger Shepherd -
I explained to him that getting up the search rankings would involve a very similar you scratch my back philosophy as in the academic world with referring to each others publications.
Now I also think that a blog needs to have some kind of theme, or at least in the early stages focus on themes for a little while. Having decide that meta-blogging, or blogging about blogging is a bit off of the mainstream, I think that from a few experiences that I have had recently, I will start a blog focussing on "ebay rants". The general theme is that there is so much fraud and bad stuff that goes on through ebay and it is all kept very quiet to allow ebay to make lots of money whilst accept no responsibility.